Councillors share their flood ordeals
Tears of sadness and frustration were shed at County Hall this week as elected members shared their personal experiences of last week’s devastating flooding.
In light of what he described as “one of the biggest events to come before Cork County Council”, County Mayor Cllr Frank O’Flynn opened the floor at Monday’s Council meeting, removing all time limits for speakers.
Cllr Susan McCarthy (Fine Gael), whose business on Main Street in Midleton was one of many to see torrents of brown water pour through its doors on Wednesday afternoon, gave a detailed and harrowing account of the day.
Ms McCarthy recalled visiting the business next door to hers at around 12.30pm when her 87 year old father arrived at her own premises. She described speaking with her father and suddenly hearing a “colossal crash of water” which she initially mistook for a burst tank upstairs.
“Already there was a river coming in,” she said. “The staff in our shop was already scrambling to try and save as much stock as possible. It happened within minutes.”
Cllr McCarthy said she watched as fast-moving water breached high walls to the north of the town before diverting onto Drury’s Avenue and entering her premises from the back, something she said had never happened before.
“So, even if we had deployed sandbags, they would have been no good because we would have put them at the fronts of our properties,” she said.
As water levels continued to rise, Cllr McCarthy helped her father upstairs to safety before tending to others in need of shelter.
“I gave him a shower, got my husband's socks and God love him, a pair of pants that belonged to my husband that were falling off him; he's lost a lot of weight, he's very vulnerable,” she shared.
“Then we took people up from the shop, we still had electricity, we gave them showers and clean clothing, we put on a pot of pasta, got everybody fed, got everybody warm and safe, and then our electricity went.”
At one point, Cllr McCarthy said she saw a business owner trying to escape her premises on Connolly Street only to fall and hit her head.
“We were very lucky that there were no fatalities,” she added.
Fellow local councillor and business owner Ann Marie Ahern (Fianna Fáil) also saw her business ruined on Wednesday last. She fought back tears in County Hall during Monday’s meeting as she described the hurt she and her family had endured as a result of abusive messages she had received from “people using this storm as political propaganda”.
“I have lost my business, people have lost their homes, and to receive these messages was appalling when we as community should actually be pulling together,” she said.
“I would ask please, please, all representatives here, that this not be made political and be made what it is, a humanitarian crisis that we all need to work together on,” added Cllr Ahern.